Goal-Inspiring Experiences

Goal-Inspiring Experiences

Lola Amaya

Dominican Republic 2016 | Morocco 2018

All images have been provided by Lola. Read her story below!

My travels and memories with Rustic Pathways will always hold a special place in my heart. Each time I built incredible relationships, learned so much about new places and cultures and made new friends.

My first Rustic experience was on the Summer Camp Leadership Program in the Bateyes of the Dominican Republic in 2016 when I was sixteen years old. This was probably the most memorable and goal inspiring experience of my life.

Even now, six years later I do not think I have had an experience that has inspired me so deeply and impacted my life’s course and career goals more than this one.

Before traveling to the Dominican Republic, I was a very shy and introverted individual, but this trip with Rustic allowed me to step out of my comfort zone. I tried new foods, had different experiences and made so many new friends.

Since the experience I am now someone who is constantly motivated to step out of her comfort zone to engage in a new experience and learn something new.

The connections I made during my time in the Dominican Republic with the other students, the local community, and especially the children living in the Bateyes and attending the summer camp deeply touched and moved me. They inspired me to learn more about ways of life that are different from my own and how many different cultures can be rich and beautiful.

I also learned about the benefits and educational gains that can come to so many people from combining travel and philanthropy. Not only was this an impactful and inspiring educational experience, but we also were shown how beautiful the country was through more off-the-grid experiences like camping and hiking in the mountains. We were shown the country’s beauty by people who lived there who knew the Dominican Republic inside and out and knew secrets that are normally hidden from everyday tourists.

Since this program, I have grown to love service and learned to love the relationships I’ve made through volunteer work. I also have grown to firmly believe that travel is one of the most impactful and important means for education and establishing a realistic and good-natured understanding of the world.

I believe that the premise of sustainable travel combined with education and philanthropy is one of the most rewarding and gratifying experiences a young person can receive.

In fact, this experience inspired me so much that it has guided most of my educational and career goals. I have spent the past four years pursuing a degree in International Affairs and Spanish Language and Literature at the University of Colorado Boulder and worked in various volunteer roles and for rural development internships as well during my time as an undergraduate.

After I graduate in May 2022 I am looking forward to entering the field and working in international rural development programs, specifically in Latin America similar to the one I participated in with Rustic Pathways.

Read more alumni stories.